This fall the Berggruen Institute will welcome its eighth cohort of Fellows to research ideas for shaping society that reimagine foundational systems and grow from interdisciplinary symbiosis and exchange. Cameron Brinitzer, Ziyaad Bhorat, Inho Choi, Alexander Clapp, Lorenzo Marsili, Naomi Oreskes, Martin Rauchbauer, Lois Rosson, Harpreet Sareen, Boris Shoshitaishvili, Daniele Tavani, Lauren Wagner, Isabella Weber, and Anna Weichselbraun will join the Institute’s notable community of thinkers. Yuk Hui, Michael McCarthy, Peter Ekman, and Martijn Konings will continue and expand their existing Berggruen Fellowship work.
“In a time when the need to reimagine foundational ideas and new governance systems has never been more urgent, this cohort of Fellows represents some of the world’s most creative and original thinkers,” said Nils Gilman, Berggruen Institute senior vice president of programs. “As the temperature of global climate and conflicts continues to rise, the Berggruen Fellowship enables the development of the ideas the planet needs.”
Founded in 2010 by philanthropist and investor Nicolas Berggruen, the Berggruen Institute develops the foundational ideas and critical analysis needed to unlock enduring progress for political, economic, and social institutions in the 21st century. Since its inception, the Berggruen Institute has launched the 21st Century Council, the Council for the Future of Europe, the Berggruen China Center, the Think Long Committee for California, and the signature Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture.
In partnership with the University of Southern California Dornsife Center on Science, Technology and Public Life (STPL), Berggruen Fellowships offer scholars flexible periods of work and study in both the United States and China. The 2022-2023 Berggruen Fellows will deliver and produce lectures, books, scholarly workshops, colloquia, and academic articles throughout their fellowships.
Great Transformations Fellows Research
Over the last seven years, the themes of the Fellowship have evolved from comparative philosophy and religion to the profound and accelerating changes reshaping the foundations of the modern world. Berggruen Fellows’ independent research and points of collaboration will extend the Institute’s programmatic work on these Great Transformations: the Future of Capitalism, the Future of Democracy, the Planetary, and Future Humans.
Fellows studying the future of capitalism will retell the history of monetary policy and stability in a way that foregrounds essential goods and services; describe possible institutions of distributed, democratic investment decision making; and develop an analytical framework to understand “green Keynesianism” and its implications for working people. The Future of Democracy program Fellows will study efforts to reimagine the future of social and political life mediated by decentralized digital ledger technologies; and examine the classical foundations of rising digital authoritarianism.
Future Humans Fellows will explore why the idea of space as a kind of familiar “Western” frontier persists in contemporary aerospace industry and culture; and create installations that will reframe how humans perceive and understand underwater macroalgae. Finally, Fellows supporting the Planetary will use Neo-Confucian philosophy to articulate a new language for great power politics in the 21st century and beyond; research the history and harms of the international garbage trade; and describe how concepts from earth sciences can inform our approach to institutions of international governance.
Cameron Brinitzer will earn his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of History and Sociology of Science in 2022. As a USC Berggruen Fellow, Brinitzer will work toward completing his first book while beginning an adjacent project focused on the recent history of supranational scientific funding instruments in Europe, the rise of illiberal and nationalist political movements across the continent, and emerging relations between sciences and politics of culture today.
Ziyaad Bhorat is a South African political theorist who researches automated technologies and democratic governance, drawing insights from the history of political thought. With the support of the USC Berggruen Fellowship, his project will examine the classical foundations and implications of a new despotism within the context of rising digital authoritarianism.
Inho Choiis a Political Science Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University, expecting to receive his degree in July 2022. At the Berggruen Institute and USC, he will continue his research on the rule of virtue and write his book on the virtues of the state in East Asian International Relations. He will also extend the analysis of his book in two related projects. First, he explores how the fractal conception of space in East Asia can resolve conflicts of territorial sovereignty. Finally, he uses the Neo-Confucian notion of cosmic attunement to provide a novel normative language for ordering great power politics in the age of Anthropocene.
Alexander Clappis a journalist based in Athens. He writes about the Balkans for publications such as the London Review of Books, The Economist and New Left Review. At the Berggruen Institute and USC, Clapp plans to research the international garbage trade for a book he is writing for Little, Brown. The book explains how the global waste trade began and how it destroys the earth, and details the geopolitical rivalries it has brewed between states of the North and South.
Peter Ekman holds a Ph.D. in geography from UC Berkeley. He has held postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C., and at Cornell University’s Clarence Stein Institute for Urban and Landscape Studies. As a continuing USC Berggruen Fellow, he will continue work on his first book, a hemispheric intellectual history of postwar planning, urbanism, and social science that will pose a series of enduring questions about temporality and expertise, including what it means to plan the uncertain future on the basis of knowledge about the present and past.
Yuk Hui is an associate professor at the City University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on the philosophy of technology, and he has published in periodicals such as Research in Phenomenology, Metaphilosophy, Angelaki, and Theory, Culture, & Society. He completed his Ph.D. at Goldsmiths’ College in London, postdoctoral studies in France, and his Habituation thesis in Germany. Yuk is also a member of the Berggruen Prize Jury. As a Berggruen Fellow, Yuk plans to write a book temporarily titled What Is Called Planetary Thinking to elaborate on the notion of the planetary and to go deeper into the work of Teilhard de Chardin to elucidate the concept of technodiversity in relation to the new nomos of the Earth after Carl Schmitt.
Martijn Konings is professor of political economy and social theory at the University of Sydney, where he also serves as associate dean (research) and co-directs a research program on asset ownership and “the new inequality.” He is also the author of Capital and Time: For a New Critique of Neoliberal Reason (Stanford, 2018), and The Asset Economy (Polity, 2020, with Lisa Adkins and Melinda Cooper). In his second year as a Berggruen Fellow, he will continue to analyze the policy channels and mechanisms that sustain asset inflation in the current moment, and examine the politics of assets from a broader historical and conceptual perspective.
Lorenzo Marsiliis an activist philosopher and writer, focusing his research and political work on defining and advocating for a future beyond the nation state. At USC and the Berggruen Institute, he will work on a new book focusing on the opportunity China presents the West for a redefinition of globalization and on the role of Europe as a laboratory for a new planetary politics.
Michael A. McCarthy is an economic democracy activist and associate professor of sociology at Marquette University. He is the author of the award-winning book, Dismantling Solidarity: Capitalist Politics and American Pensions since the New Deal (Cornell University Press, 2017), which explains the marketization of old-age income in the US. He is also a regular contributor to Jacobin and has advanced public debates about economic democracy in venues such as the Washington Post, Boston Review, Renewal, and Tribune Magazine. In his second year as a USC Berggruen Fellow, he will continue working on his manuscript on democratizing finance, tentatively titled The Master’s Tools: Using Finance Against Capitalism, which is under contract with Verso Books.
Naomi Oreskesis the Henry Charles Lea Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. A world-renowned earth scientist, historian and public intellectual, she is a leading voice on the role of science in society and the reality of anthropogenic climate change. She is the author or co-author of eight books, including the best-selling Merchants of Doubt (Bloomsbury, 2010). Her new book, with Erik M. Conway, The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market, will be published in early 2023. As a Berggruen Fellow, she plans to continue her work on the question of how we can re-embrace government to address the twin crises of climate and (inadequately regulated) capitalism.
Martin Rauchbaueris a senior Austrian diplomat and a tech governance expert who currently is on a sabbatical in the San Francisco Bay Area after having served for two years as Austria’s first Tech Ambassador to Silicon Valley and more than five years as Head of Open Austria and Austrian Consul in San Francisco. Martin shaped the emerging field of tech diplomacy, engaging in transatlantic tech diplomacy and digital human rights. He also developed digital humanism as a strategic focus of Austrian foreign policy. In Silicon Valley Martin co-founded Open Austria’s Art + Tech Lab, and the European art + tech + policy initiative The Grid. At Berggruen, he will look at new and innovative ways to reorganize the relationship between governments and tech companies. Analyzing the growing trend of tech diplomacy in global tech hubs such as Silicon Valley, he will launch a new initiative on the global governance of new technologies supported by various stakeholders in the private and policy sector.
Lois Rosson received her Ph.D. from the History Department at U.C. Berkeley in 2022. At Berggruen and USC, she will complete her first book manuscript, which examines the impact of midcentury astronomical illustration on perceptions of space landscapes in both the popular and scientific imaginaries. The project explains why certain visual tropes—such as the persistent characterization of space as a type of western frontier—continue to permeate contemporary aerospace.
Harpreet Sareen is an Assistant Professor of Interaction and Media Design and Director of the Synthetic Ecosystems Lab at The New School. At Berggruen and USC, Harpreet will be creating installations that refocus human attention on underwater macroalgae through the recoding of their physiological phenomena in various coasts of the world.
Boris Shoshitaishvili is a science studies scholar with a background in evolutionary biology, comparative literature, and ancient Greek epic poetry. As a USC Berggruen Fellow, Boris is working on a book exploring how we can understand certain concepts from the Earth sciences – the Anthropocene, Gaia Theory, and the Noosphere – as early attempts to formulate specific “planetary identities,” which are poised to influence cultural, political, and institutional practices in the near future.
Daniele Tavani is a professor in the department of economics at Colorado State University and faculty affiliate in the PhD in economics at Sapienza University of Rome, his hometown. As a USC Berggruen Fellow, Daniele will work on the distributional effects of fiscal policy—public investment in particular—and on developing an analytical framework to understand “green Keynesianism” and its implications for working people.
Lauren Wagner is a Principal at Link Ventures where she invests in early stage technology startups. She previously worked at Meta and Google in their New York and Bay Area offices bringing new products to market. At Meta, Lauren led product strategy and market adoption for the company’s transparency efforts, developing tools designed to counter misinformation, including fact-checking and crowdsourced content moderation. She spent 10 years prior to this at Google working on artificial intelligence, and with venture-backed startups and multinationals. Lauren holds a Master’s in Social Science of the Internet from the University of Oxford, as well as a Master’s and Bachelors of Science from Cornell University. As a Berggruen Fellow she will be researching the “Trust and Safety” industry to expand the dialogue around online harm mitigation, and train technologists to consider both the private and societal impact of their work.
Isabella Weber is an Assistant Professor of Economics and the Research Leader for China of the Asian Political Economy Program at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As a USC Berggruen Fellow, she will work on her next book project, which will re-conceptualize the ways in which we think about monetary stability from a comparative historical and institutional perspective, foregrounding the role of essential goods and economic activities.
Anna Weichselbraun is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of European Ethnology at the University of Vienna. At USC and Berggruen, Anna will examine the vibrant efforts of Web3 software engineers, designers, and artists to build radically inclusive and participatory online communities and alternative economies. These efforts to reimagine the future of social and political life mediated by decentralized digital ledger technologies, she proposes, might offer productive insights for conceptualizing and designing institutional forms that scale to problems of long-term planetary governance.